By Mark Clark
The 2019 high school football season is not all that far away that we cannot begin talking about what lies ahead right now. In fact, from tomorrow, it is 154 days or 23 weeks – whichever you prefer – before the season kicks off for most schools in Alabama. It is the sport that draws the most attention to the state, though our other major sports for both boys and girls athletics are every bit as exciting. They just do not receive the attention of high school football because of our state’s love of college football.
What? We love high school football because of college football? Well, sort of. We love to watch the kids develop as players from their freshman season through their senior season. Then, we want to watch the better players – the ones good enough to play college football – play at the next level to see if they become professional players. We love that the cycle begins anew each fall.
And this all begins with the recruiting season. For those who are unaware of when the recruiting season begins and ends for high school football players, it does not. It is a year-around event. There is the season. Then there is the early signing period. That’s followed by a dead period so that players may compete in all-star games. After that comes the National Signing Day. Spring training follows that. We have a short dead period after the spring practice to allow some students to graduate. Then there are the summer camps to rank the players and to allow college coaches to begin their rankings of the players that they think they need. By the time the coaches decide, it is time to start summer practice. And then, of course, the season begins again. During all this time, there is recruiting going on – not just for the next season, but for several seasons ahead.
Locally, we have three Central High football players already ranked among the top players in the state which should be a surprise to no one. There will be more than those three who will get offers to play college football before their high school careers end. Several will get offers as the season progresses. Others will get their offers after the season ends. And, a few more will get offers after coaches see where the players they initially recruit go.
But, all we can talk about right now are the three players considered among the Top 50 or so in Alabama as the first rankings come out. I chose two of the major services to compare at this early juncture 247Sports and Rivals.com.
Central High quarterback Peter Parrish is ranked No. 16 in the 247Sports Top 57 rankings. The 6-2, 190-pound quarterback is fourth highest signal caller on the list and the second highest considered a dual threat quarterback. Parrish led Central to an 11-1 record last season, losing in the semifinals to McGill-Toolen High in overtime 27-26. The quarterbacks ahead of Parrish are Taulia Tagovailoa of Thompson High in Alabaster, Bo Nix of Pinson Valley High in Pinson and Paul Tyson of Hewitt-Trussville High in Trussville.
If you go over to Rivals.com, Parrish remains the fourth best quarterback according to its rankings. But, he drops down to No. 28 overall in its Top 45. Parrish is still behind Tagovailoa, Nix and Tyson.
Central safety Ray Thornton is ranked at No. 29 in the 247Sports rankings. The 6-2, 195-pounder is the second-best safety in the state according to that ranking service. He is behind Trikweze Bridges of Lanett High in Lanett. Over in the Rivals.com rankings, Thornton is ranked at No. 25 and is the third best safety in the state. Thornton is behind Bridges and Keshun Brown of Carver High of Montgomery.
A’montae Spivey, the 6-0, 185-pound, running back at Central High is ranked at No. 50 in the 247Sports rankings. He is the sixth best running back in the state by that service’s rankings. He is behind Larry McCammon of Hoover High in Hoover, Tony Amerson of St. James High in Montgomery, Shadrick Byrd of Thompson High in Alabaster, A.J. Finley of St. Paul’s Episcopal in Mobile and Jonathan Fells of Carroll High of Ozark. Unfortunately, Spivey is not ranked at all in the Rivals.com Top 45. The other five are ranked in the Top 45. With a few more camps under his belt this summer, Spivey will no doubt move up in the rankings and appear in the list produced by both services. If I was a college recruiter and was on Spivey’s trail, I would not want to see his name appear on any other list. In fact, I would probably want to see his name dropped from the list he is on in order to have a better shot at signing him. I doubt that is going to happen.
And just for fun, here are the Top 10 players listed on each of the two services. 247Sports: Clay Webb, OC, Oxford; Pierce Quick, OT, Trussville, Christian Williams, CB, Daphne, Amari Kight, OT, Thompson, Taulia Tagovailoa, QB, Thompson, Mohamoud Diabate, OLB, Auburn, Bo Nix, QB, Pinson, Paul Tyson, QB, Trussville, George Pickens, WR, Hoover and DJ Dale, DT, Clay-Chalkville. Rivals.com lists Webb, Nix, Quick, Kight, Williams, LaVonta Bentley, ILB, Jackson-Olin, Pickens, Trikweze Bridges, S, Lanett, Diabate and Tyson.
We will all have to wait to see if these recruiting services have the players ranked in the right places. Things change over time, but time is getting short when it comes to the opening kickoff of the 2018 high school football season. Maybe I should go select a seat now. I would hate to miss anything.
Mark Clark is a local sports writer for
The Citizen of East Alabama.